Tuesday, January 30, 2007

RM January 11 - Let Sleeping teens lie

HERE'S some research which will delight many teenagers. Apparently scientists have discovered that teenagers have a different sleep pattern to young children and adults. It was previously thought that mornings are the best time to do anything intellectual however this research shows that mornings are just not a good time for teenagers.

I didn’t need research to tell me that, but then again I am not the best morning person either, so I was putting it down to genetics. Apparently there is now scientific research into sleeping patterns disproving my hereditary theory.

We all know our teens can easily stay up late blasting music, playing video games or watching telly and then you have to practically drag them out of bed semi-comatose.

As children hit puberty apparently bedtime and waking up time become later and later making afternoons and evenings the optimum time to carry out physical or intellectual activities.

That explains why double maths on a Monday morning doesn’t work, though in fairness that would probably not work for most people.

This state of sleep depravation continues until the young person reaches their 20s. Professor Foster, from Oxford University, explained adult body clocks start to gear up from 8am, for teenagers this is more likely to be from 10am until midday.

Here’s the science bit. In adults the darkness hormone melatonin which helps us fall asleep begins to be produced at about 10pm. In teenagers laboratory tests have shown this to be produced at 1am.

This sleep depravation could also be detrimental to our teens because it is during their sleep they release hormones essential for their teenage growth spurts.

So a lack of sleep can make you small.

Studies have also shown that instead of getting the recommended nine and a half hours sleep, teenagers are depending on seven and a half hours.

There are consequences to this lack of sleep, inability to pay attention in class, moodiness, and this lack of sleep is linked to poor grades and poor athletic performance.

I wonder does that explain why the Young Wan while studying for a class test fell completely, utterly and soundly asleep when she was supposed to be studying.

So what can you do to help your teen get enough sleep?

Firstly establish a regular bedtime and be firm with them about it. I know this is easier said that done.

But maybe explaining how much growing their bodies are doing at that time which depends on getting a good sleep every night. Chances are when you talk about body changes to a teenager they will say and agree to anything just to shut you up. ‘Yeuuckk Mum’s talking about puberty again!”

Having a regular bedtime will tell your body that it is time to sleep. Take regular exercise, but not before bedtime. They should also avoid caffeine and nicotine because they are stimulants.

While all this advice sounds fine in theory, I have found the carrying out of it myself less than easy. I will say to herself at 10pm, right time for bed. Then I realise it is 10.45pm, she disappeared to wash and now I can hear some loud thumping music emanating from her room.

However in order to have her as bright and alert as can be during this Junior Cert year, it will be bed early whether she likes it or not.

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cc said...

Clearly this is why I'm so small! Staying up late to make light signals up at you and the two of us creeping out of our houses in the middle of the night to sit on my front wall. Result: 4'11"

Boliath said...

I'm still a teenager! I knew it! I don't function until well after 10am. It's a mystery how I manage to get up dressed, bring the child to school also dressed and fed, sometimes both of us are even clean, imagine that.

I grab something to eat on the way to work, not the healthiest I know but at least I eat.

Carlo said...

Good Job! :)